The Little Boy

July 9, 2009

Scott and I stopped at one of our favorite botequims today to have a snack, and while we were sitting there a little boy of about four or five tugged at our sleeves asking for money.  It wasn’t the first time we had been asked for money since arriving in Rio, but it felt more personal.  He was so little.  

Two weeks ago when arrived we were in a cab, about to go through the tunnel to the center of the city.  A different little boy, maybe about seven or eight, was working that stretch of highway-ish road, squeegying windshields.  The stretch of asphalt was packed with cars, edged by sloping concrete walls, and filled with exhaust.  The boy had two water bottles of bottles of suds, one nearly empty and one half full.  He very carefully unscrewed both and put them on the cement wall, gingerly pouring the remnants in the nearly empty bottle into the fuller one, as if they were the most deadly chemicals, not sparing a drop.  His life may have depended on it.

It’s easy to forget here, on the easy breezy beach, what almost the entire city looks like, but these little boys were distinctive faces for me.  Kristof writes well about this today.


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